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By Mike Johnson on 2018-01-29 09:05:00

The Ronda Rousey appearance at the end of the Royal Rumble came off much better live than it did on the broadcast of the PPV last night from Philadelphia.  Live, Asuka, Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss were standing in the ring when "Bad Reputation" started playing everyone in the building started looking around.  The "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey logo flashed on the screens and the building exploded and everyone began looking around to see if a video was going to play or if Rousey was in the crowd.  When she walked out on the stage, there was another huge pop and a massive "Holy sh**!" chant. I don't think the broadcast accurately caught the excitement in the crowd as there was a lot of buzz after the Rousey appearance.  It came off much more awkward on television.

Speaking of Rousey's appearance, while there was a lot of speculation that she would be appearing in some fashion last night, it was a massive shock to the locker room and even a good portion of production when she did.  Rousey was not listed on any of the production sheets last night and great means were taken to hide the fact that she was there.  She wasn't seen in the building until 10 seconds before she appeared on the stage.  The belief among those I spoke to were that if you weren't a McMahon or Kevin Dunn, within the company, you had no idea this was happening.

Rousey was wearing Roddy Piper's signature jacket, which was lent to her by his family after his passing several years ago.  Piper's son Colt brought the jacket personally from Las Vegas to Philly to give to Rousey to wear for the moment.  Piper had given his blessing for Rousey to use the "Rowdy" moniker in her UFC exploits.

At no point was Rousey ever booked to physically compete in the Rumble match.  WWE wants to save that first match for Wrestlemania.  Given the scene last night, the immediate impression I had was she was going to face Charlotte Flair but I am told that's not 100% set in stone and may not be the direction.  If they wanted to really tie up old storylines, they could do Braun Strowman & Rousey vs. Stephanie McMahon & Triple H since Strowman laid out HHH at Survivor Series and they never went back to that, plus Rousey had the angle a few years back at Mania with HHH and Stephanie.  That could be the direction.  We will see.

WWE is already selling two official Ronda Rousey shirts.  

As far as the Rumble event, there were a lot of production changes over the course of Sunday.  While the Women's Rumble was always slated to close the PPV, the order of matches over the course of the day kept changing.

A number of the former WWE female stars were booked partially because the company wanted the Rumble match to have a celebration of all the women who had helped build the women's division to what it has become, but also because so many of them reached out to the company wanting to be involved.  Some names were booked weeks ago, but others weren't officially booked to appear until they were at Raw 25. 

While Molly Holly was denying publicly she would be competing at the Rumble and wasn't in ring shape, she was booked right after the match was announced and was already in ring shape as she trains talents every week at the Academy in Minneapolis, the school owned by Ken Anderson and Shawn Daivari.  Holly and Michelle McCool, as we reported at the time, were the first "former talents" to be contacted by the company for the match.  You have to admire Holly's commitment to kayfabe in denying the appearance.  I do.

Rapper Designer was at the Rumble last night. 

The Undertaker was backstage last night to see his wife Michelle McCool return to the ring.  He gave no real indication to anyone we've heard what his Wrestlemania plans were.

Pat Patterson was also backstage, lending his expertise.

WWE Hall of Famer Nikolai Volkoff was visiting at the PPV  He was never scheduled to be on camera and came in from Baltimore, where he lives.

For those who asked, Paige was backstage but not used on camera, not even to accompany Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville to their entrances.

Some WWE NXT talents were backstage at the Rumble while others were there until finding out they weren't needed and headed out.

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